Launch into Leadership

‘It’s okay to not be okay’: Bivins delivers emotional address to SGA

Student Government Association Senator Spencer Bivins delivered an emotional address to the Atlanta Senate on the evening of Sept. 27, 2018. Photo by Daniel Varitek | The Signal

“‘Don’t let anyone ever tell you to change that ‘love’ to a ‘loved’ because it’s just wrong. The love still exists, I promise you. Even when I don’t exist, the love still does. So don’t worry, okay? It’s just me that’s gone. The rest of me is still there.’ Those were some of the last words Luis Michael wrote to his boyfriend in his suicide letter.”

Student Government Association (SGA) Senator Spencer Bivins opened his two-minute address to the senate with an impassioned note written by himself and Freshman Liaison Kenneth Lockett.

“I have a history of mental illnesses. I’ve lost family and friends to suicide. This is a topic dear to my heart and I know it’s close to other members as well,” Bivins said. “As members of SGA, we have a responsibility to serve the members of this campus in any way possible.

“I ask that we as a body work with the counseling department and organizations like Active Minds to introduce a more aggressive mental health and suicide awareness campaign. I also ask for the safety ad-hoc committee to spearhead this campaign.”

Student Government Association Senator Spencer Bivins delivered an emotional address to the Atlanta Senate on the evening of Sept. 27, 2018. Photo by Daniel Varitek | The Signal

His address to the senate was in response to student accounts of a man standing atop a parking garage, seemingly with the intention of attempting suicide, near the Aderhold Learning Center on Wednesday.

“While there is no indication the man was a member of the Panther family, it could’ve easily been one of us,” Bivins said.

He then said that he, too, had once struggled with suicide and depression.

“And I say that with strength now because I’ve moved on past that point, but for a lot of people they haven’t and for our students it’s necessary,” Bivins said, bringing several senators to tears.

He encouraged SGA to act as proponents of raising awareness and activism to support those who may be struggling with it as well.

“We can’t just sit here and be idle and allow our students to tumble across the stage,” he said. “It’s our chance to change that—to change the culture, to cultivate a new belief that it’s okay to not be okay. So let’s start there.”

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